CHN’s Human Needs Watch: Tracking Hardship, June 30, 2023


June 30, 2023

June 30, 2023  

The we’re-failing-our-children edition. The latest National Assessment of Educational Progress test scores are out and the news is not good. The math and reading performance of 13-year-olds has hit the lowest level in decades. The last time the math performance was this low for 13-year-olds was 1990 – in reading, the last time it was this low was 2004. 

And inequality grew. Scores dropped regardless of race, class, and geography. But in math, among vulnerable children – including Black, Native American, and low-income children – scores plummeted. The pandemic undoubtedly contributed to this decline – but it didn’t cause all of it. Scores were already on the decline before COVID-19 arrived. 

But declining test scores are not the only way we are failing our children. Beginning this fall, millions of kids will begin losing access to child care. Millions of people saw a cut in SNAP benefits starting last March, with the loss for families with children averaging $223 per month.  Still more are losing access to Medicaid and CHIP, due to the mass eligibility checks being implemented due to the end of the public health emergency, and there is a very real possibility that a large number of families will get kicked out of affordable housing. On top of all this, the House Committee on Appropriations approved a 56% cut to the WIC fruit and vegetable benefit for young children, from $25 to $11 per month. 

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that hungry kids have trouble learning. So do kids who are unhoused, or lack access to health care. And who knows to what extent the impending sharp decline in child care will affect child development? 

Congress is away right now, on the front end of the 4th of July recess. But you can still tell them, just as a starting point: don’t take heathy fruits and vegetables away from kids. Click here.



Average test scores for 13-year-olds dropped 4 points in reading and 9 points in math, compared to the previous test administered during the 2019-2020 school year. Compared to a decade ago, test scores dropped 7 points in reading and 14 points in math. Tweet this.


-6 to 8/-12 to 14 

Math test scores declined 6 to 8 points for middle- and high-performing students, and 12 to 14 points for lower-performing students. Tweet this.


3-4 million 

If Congress restores the expanded Child Tax Credit to its 2021 level, including making it fully available to families with the lowest incomes, there would be 3 to 4 million fewer children living in poverty, and child poverty would be cut nearly in half. Bills have been filed in both the House and Senate to eliminate this form of discrimination. Tweet this.


>1 million


More than 1 million children in just 5 states (FL, NY, OH, PA, and TX)  could lose access to child care beginning this fall as pandemic-era federal subsidies expire, according to a report by The Century Foundation. Overall, 3.2 million kids could lose access, and 70,000 child care centers may close. Tweet this.




Between 2019 and 2021, gun deaths among children increased by 50 percent, rising from 1,732 to 2,590. Tweet this.


3 in 5


Sixty percent of Americans said gun violence is a “very big problem” today, while 23 percent said it is a “moderately big problem,” according to a Pew Research Center poll released Wednesday. Thirteen percent said it is a “small problem,” while 4 percent said gun violence is “not a problem at all.”


35% in 5 

35 percent of Medicaid disenrollments in the 5 states reporting age breakdowns were children (156,000 in all, in AR, AZ,IN, OK, and VA), as of June 29 – despite the fact that children are most likely to remain eligible for Medicaid or CHIP. Among all states reporting, 71 percent of all those terminated lost Medicaid for lack of paperwork.


$42 billion/
8.5 million/

The Biden Administration this week announced more than $42 billion in new funds to expand high-speed internet access to 8.5 million families and small businesses. It’s the most ambitious program of its kind ever launched, and is part of bipartisan infrastructure legislation approved by Congress in 2021. This is great news for the 30 percent of children in grades K-12 who lack adequate internet or devices to sustain learning at home.




How much the House Appropriations Committee would cut the WIC fruit and vegetable allotment for one – four year-olds, from $25 down to $11 per month.


16% vs 8%


16 percent of people with children said they were not caught up on rent in the past month, twice the percentage of people without children (7.8%), reported from 6/7 – 6/19/23.